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  • The State of PC Gaming

    Posted on June 7th, 2005 Finster 4 comments

    Many people are saying that PC Gaming is slowly dying. Others say it will be around for much longer and become stronger than it is now. I say that it’s WAY to early to tell.

    Here’s why.

    Yes, console gaming is exploding, but it’s presumptuous to assume that the next generation of console gaming will perform as well as the last. The PS3 could be filled with $500 worth of string cheese. Halo 3 may be a huge flop. (I’m always wary of odd-numbered sequels.) Console gaming has failed before. Companies have died and platforms have tanked.

    It’s also too early to declare the PC market as dying. Yesterday, Apple officially announced it would be using Intel chips in its Mac computers, and Steve Jobs revealed what many in the Apple rumormill already knew. An x86-based version of OS X has been in parallel development for FIVE YEARS.

    The PC market as we know it has just been turned on its head. There’s still a lot of speculation, but what if, as is posited at Cathode Tan, Apple releases a version of WINE to run on OS X, or OS X-2 or whatever. Who knows how that will affect the PC Gaming landscape?

    I’m of the belief that competition is good. Apple’s announcement is probably going to bring another platform to the mainstream desktop. (IMHO, Macs are not mainstream. They’re niche. Face it.) Since this platform is Unix-based, it brings the talents of the open source community, who are typically more *nix savvy, to a mainstream desktop OS that actually stands a good chance of grabbing more than 2% of the market. (Sorry, Linux gaming is innovative, but it doesn’t sell.) It should be noted that open source 3D gaming engines like Nexiuz and CubeEngine are going to be the future of PC gaming merely because of Apple’s decision. Oh, you’ll still see your Quake 4 and Unreal 3 engine-based games on the PC, but small-change developers are not going to be shut out of the industry by the increasingly high costs of game development. Also, these small-time development houses are NOT going to be developing for consoles, which require strictly licensed dev kits as opposed to the GPL.

    On the other hand, the problems of PC gaming lie in the hardware.

    Let’s look at the kind of computer I would need in order to be able to play Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I’m probably going to need a better processor than my current AMD Athlon XP 2000+. I KNOW I’m going to need a video card with more power than my Geforce4 Ti 4200. Then, there’s RAM. Oh, and since I’m getting a new processor and new RAM, I’m probably going to need a new motherboard. At least my current optical mouse will still work. So, I’m looking at an upgrade of somewhere around $1000 or more. Now, if I wanted a system that will render Oblivion on par with the Xbox 360, I’ll probably need to spend much MUCH more.

    For the Xbox 360, I buy the console for $300. I already have a TV, and I don’t need an HDTV because I can just get the VGA adapter that Microsoft is manufacturing and hook it up to one of my large monitors. So, we’re talking maybe $330. Hmm… well… you see the problem that PC gaming as an industry must face.

    The conclusion I have therefore come to, is if PC gaming is to remain alive and intact as we know it, it’s going to require the success of Apple’s new x86 line of operating systems. So, basically, the future is up in the air. No one knows what will happen, and it could go either way. But I’ll tell you what… for PC gamers, it’s going to be a wild ride.


    4 responses to “The State of PC Gaming” RSS icon

    • I think the price point difference is going to really start to hurt the PC gaming industry now. Before you could outspend on the PC, but you were going to get a better gaming experience than a console could possibly offer. Now you have to outspend just to get a comparable experience.

      Those kinds of economics are going to cripple PC gaming. It’s one thing to spend $1000 and be able to say “Let’s see your N64 do that!”. It is a horse of an entirely different color to spend the same money to get a game to run as well as it would on an X-Box360.

      Unless of course the PC gaming industry starts adopting more stringent hardware standards and starts delivering more with less. Pipe dream I’m sure.

    • Now if only the console makers would resurrect the friggin’ mouse so you could control worth a damn!
      And a left-hand equivalent of WSDA.

    • One major problem. The games for PCs and consoles are 90% different. When I see warcraft 3, half life 2, world of warcraft, and Pirates on the X box, playable with keyboard and mouse, you may be right. But I really dont care about 90% of the games for consoles right now.

    • That’s a good point, the kinds of games on console and PC are pretty different.

      I guess I’ve gotten used to using a controller for shooters like Metroid Prime or Halo 2. However, every time I see an RTS on a console, it just completely blows.

      I love the PC for strategy games, and usually you don’t need a high-end system to play them. However, if there was a keyboard and mouse for consoles that was universally implemented, I would be all over that.

      I love my Dreamcast keyboard and mouse. :)